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5 most common misconceptions about expungement

A criminal record can haunt you for years, even for the rest of your life. It could cost you employment opportunities, housing options and access to educational programs. Thankfully, expungement is a legal tool you may be able to use.

Expungement, or record sealing, allows you to remove certain offenses or convictions from your criminal records. However, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding it. So, it is important to know about these inaccuracies in case you need to seek a second chance after a brush with the law.

1.  Expungement erases everything

This is arguably the most prevalent myth. Expungement does not completely wipe your record. It erases certain offenses from the public view, but law enforcement and some government agencies may still have access to your sealed records.

2. You can expunge any criminal record

Not all offenses qualify for expungement in New Mexico. Generally, only misdemeanors and certain felonies are eligible. Serious offenses such as violent crimes, crimes against a minor and repeat offenses may not qualify.

3. Expungement guarantees a clean slate

While sealing your record can help remove the stigma of a criminal record, it does not guarantee a fresh start. Some government institutions may still do background checks. However, you do not have to disclose the specifics of an expunged record.

4. The process is quick and easy

You must file a petition with the court and meet specific legal requirements. The process can take anywhere from several months to a year, depending on how complex your case is and the court’s backlog.

5. Expungement is expensive

While there are associated court fees, the overall cost varies from case to case. However, the long-term benefits of a clean record often outweigh the initial cost.

Taking charge of your future

Expungement can be life-changing if you or a loved one wishes to move forward from a past mistake. An experienced criminal law attorney can assess your eligibility, guide you through the process, and increase your chances of a successful outcome.